Types of Social Security cards
Four different classifications of Social Security cards are issued. Such cards are issued by geographic location (SSN Area Number) to:
persons of natural birth within the territorial boundaries of any one of the member States of the United States of America;
persons who become U.S. citizens by oath, or birth within the exclusive legislative or territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. government;
persons who become U.S. permanent residents;
persons with certain restrictions.
There are two restricted types of Social Security cards:
One reads "not valid for employment." Such cards cannot be used as proof of work authorization, and are not acceptable as a List C document on the I-9 form.
The other reads "valid for work only with DHS authorization", or the older, "valid for work only with INS authorization." These cards are issued to people who have temporary work authorization in the U.S from the
Department of Homeland Security -- the nation's border agency. They can satisfy the I-9 requirement, if they are accompanied by a work authorization card.
The cards commonly display the cardholder's name and number.
In 2004 Congress passed The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act; parts of which mandated that the Social Security Administration redesign the SSN card to prevent forgery.
From April 2006 through August 2007, the SSA and Government Printing Office (GPO) employees were assigned to redesign the Social Security number card to the specifications of the Interagency Task Force created by the commissioner of Social Security in consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security.
The new SSN card design utilizes both covert and overt security features created by the SSA and GPO design teams.
Secure Your SSN From Identity Theft
Many citizens and privacy advocates are concerned about the disclosure and processing of Social Security numbers. Furthermore, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have demonstrated an algorithm that uses publicly available personal information to reconstruct a given SSN.
The SSN is frequently used by those involved in identity theft. This is because it is interconnected with many other forms of identification and people asking for it treat it as an authenticator. Financial institutions generally require an SSN to set up bank accounts, credit cards, and loans—partly because they assume that no one except the person it was issued to knows it.
Exacerbating the problem of using the Social Security number as an identifier is the fact that the Social Security card contains no biometric identifiers of any sort, making it essentially impossible to tell whether a person using a certain SSN truly belongs to someone without relying on other documentation (which may itself have been falsely procured through use of the fraudulent SSN). Congress has proposed federal laws that restrict the use of SSNs for identification and bans their use for a number of commercial purposes—e.g., rental applications.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers alternatives to SSNs in some places where providing untrusted parties with identification numbers is essential. Tax return preparers must obtain and use a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) to include on their client's tax returns (as part of signature requirements). Day care services have tax benefits, and even a sole proprietor should give parents an EIN (employer identification number) to use on their tax return.
The Social Security Administration has suggested that, if asked to provide their Social Security number, a citizen should ask which law requires its use. In accordance with §7213 of the 9/11 Commission Implementation Act of 2004 and 20 CFR 422.103, the number of replacement Social Security cards per person is generally limited to three per calendar year and ten in a lifetime.
Identity confusion has also occurred because of the use of local Social Security numbers by the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, whose numbers overlap with those of residents of New Hampshire and Maine.
Similarly, Social Security numbers are often valued information for hackers to gain in attacks such as social engineering attacks, where attackers try and manipulate people into disclosing private information. For example, in the social engineering attack involving Hewlett-Packard, executives hired private investigators to manipulate phone companies into disclosing calling information and social security numbers of employees they suspected were leaking information to the press.
Historical structure of SSN-
Prior to the 2011 randomization process, the first three digits or area numbers were assigned by geographical region. Prior to 1973, cards were issued in local Social Security offices around the country and the area number represented the office code where the card was issued. This did not necessarily have to be in the area where the applicant lived, since a person could apply for their card in any Social Security office.
Beginning in 1973, when the SSA began assigning SSNs and issuing cards centrally from Baltimore, the area number was assigned based on the ZIP Code in the mailing address provided on the application for the original Social Security card. The applicant's mailing address did not have to be the same as their place of residence. Thus, the area number did not necessarily represent the state of residence of the applicant regardless of whether the card was issued prior to, or after, 1973.
Generally, numbers were assigned beginning in the northeast and moving south and westward, so that people applying from addresses on the east coast had the lowest numbers and those on the west coast had the highest numbers. As the areas assigned to a locality were exhausted, new areas from the pool were assigned, so some states had noncontiguous groups of numbers.
The middle two digits or group number range from 01 to 99. Even before SSN randomization, the group numbers were not assigned consecutively within an area. Instead, for administrative reasons, group numbers were issued in the following order:
odd numbers from 01 through 09
even numbers from 10 through 98
even numbers from 02 through 08
odd numbers from 11 through 99
As an example, group number 98 would be issued before 11.
The last four digits, which are serial numbers, "are the most important to protect" and they can "open credit in your name, steal your money" and more. Before SSN randomization took effect, they represented a straight numerical sequence of digits from 0001 to 9999 within the group.
Social Security numbers were first issued by the Social Security Administration in November 1935 as part of the New Deal Social Security program. Within three months, 25 million numbers were issued.
On November 24, 1936, 1,074 of the nation's 45,000 post offices were designated "typing centers" to type up Social Security cards that were then sent to Washington, D.C. On December 1, 1936, as part of the publicity campaign for the new program, Joseph L. Fay of the Social Security Administration selected a record from the top of the first stack of 1,000 records and announced that the first Social Security number in history was assigned to John David Sweeney, Jr., of New Rochelle, New York.
However, since the Social Security numbers were not assigned in chronological order, Sweeney did not receive the lowest Social Security number, 001-01-0001. That distinction belongs to Grace D. Owen of Concord, New Hampshire.
Before 1986, people often did not obtain a Social Security number until the age of about 14, since the numbers were used for income tracking purposes, and those under that age seldom had substantial income. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 required parents to list Social Security numbers for each dependent over the age of 5 for whom the parent wanted to claim a tax deduction. Before this act, parents claiming tax deductions were simply trusted not to lie about the number of children they supported.
During the first year of the Tax Reform Act, this anti-fraud change resulted in seven million fewer minor dependents being claimed. The disappearance of these dependents is believed to have involved either children who never existed or tax deductions improperly claimed by non-custodial parents. In 1988, the threshold was lowered to two years old, and in 1990, the threshold was lowered yet again to one year old.
Today, an SSN is required regardless of the child's age to receive an exemption. Since then, parents have often applied for Social Security numbers for their children soon after birth; today, it can be done on the application for a birth certificate.